Local park and recreation agencies have been offering programs and services to address the diverse health and wellness needs of the growing older adult population for decades. With the population of individuals ages 65 and older projected to reach 94.7 million in 2060, these programs and services are essential to meet the needs of aging community members.
The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), with support from RRF Foundation for Aging, is tapping into the power of parks and recreation to support healthy aging and combat the epidemic of loneliness and isolation among older adults. NRPA has received $86,000 in grant funding to conduct a research project that will identify promising interventions and scale practices to promote social and intergenerational connectedness.
Over the next year, NRPA will work to understand the state of the park and recreation field as it relates to equitably supporting healthy aging and social and intergenerational interconnectedness, including identifying gaps, challenges, opportunities and emerging trends from the field. Initial findings from NRPA’s Older Adults and Parks and Recreation Survey show that 92 percent of agencies offer facilities, activities and/or programming dedicated to older adults living in their community. The findings of this survey, along with the findings from focus groups and case studies from interdisciplinary aging network leaders, will drive the implementation of a Healthy Aging in Parks framework.
Tori Boschert, CPRP, recreation coordinator for Calvert County (Maryland) Parks and Recreation, has witnessed firsthand the value of supporting older adults through healthy aging programming. “Meeting them on their terms and helping them progress has been incredibly fulfilling on a personal level. It also shed light on the struggles this demographic faces in our fast-paced and ever-changing society. I eagerly anticipated each interaction with our participants, building connections, sharing both triumphs and challenges, supporting them through their personal trials, and witnessing them apply the program in real life,” said Boschert.
To learn more, visit NRPA’s Healthy Aging in Parks webpage.
Natalia Ospina (she/her) is a senior program manager at NRPA.